Are We Trying Too Hard To Be Happy?
Yes! I'm Happy!!!!
Since I have been suffering from anxiety, depression and grief for quite awhile, I have been on a rampage of reading everything I can on all those topics. I guess I am looking for that magical solution to ease all my pain, which of course, doesn't exist. A lot of what I've read has helped, so it was worth it. It comforted me or gave me some ideas to work with. Did I find the magic formula to end all those feelings? No, of course not.
Then I became obsessed with reading about how to be happier. This is where things got interesting for me. The more I read about it, and the harder I tried to follow the advice given, the unhappier I became.
I couldn't figure out why this would happen until I started thinking that being happy shouldn't have to be worked at. It's a fine idea to think in a positive manner and try to enjoy each moment or find the good in each day...all that kind of advice is fine and dandy. It can help you to stop being so negative. But shouldn't true happiness just come naturally?
Think of times you were really happy. Were you consciously thinking about being happy or were you just happy? Were you thinking, "aha! Look, I'm happy!" ? I doubt it. You might think about a moment later and remember about how happy you felt, but not at the time it was happening. You're too caught up in the moment.
I may be wrong, but to me that is natural happiness. If I have to force myself to be happy, it doesn't feel right. If I have to constantly remind myself to look for something to lift my spirits, it becomes a chore. Should happiness be hard work? I don't think so.
Another aspect to chasing happiness is that it can make you anxious and depressed. If you keep working on it and you are not any happier, you feel worse. Working so hard on it makes you anxious...failing to accomplish it makes you depressed. Quite the vicious circle.
So, how do we become happier? I will say the one thing I have learned from all my reading on the subject is that gratitude is one tool that has worked. When I feel blue, I say something I'm grateful for. Even if it's small, it counts. It doesn't have to be huge. Anything you are grateful for counts. It can be a simple as, "I'm grateful that it stopped raining" or "I'm grateful that I have this chocolate bar to eat." To be honest, when I first started doing this, I felt kind of...silly, I guess. But amazingly it did lift my spirits and make me smile, which in turn gave me a moment of happiness.
There is one more important thing I learned. It is ok not to be happy. It is ok to be in pain. It's not pleasant or comfortable, but it's ok. When you lose a loved one, you are not going to be happy. You might not be happy for a long time. It would be almost crazy to think you should feel happy instead of all the other (normal) things you are feeling.
That's not to say that in the middle of grieving you can't laugh or feel happy at all. Of course you can and it happens. I think it's the amazing gift given to us by the Universe that sometimes we will feel happiness while grieving. It is a little break that keeps us sane. The same goes for any devastating situation you are in.
Since battling my anxiety/depression/grief situation, I fought hard to stay positive and it was hurting me more than helping me. I was not facing my bad emotions and they have to be faced to be resolved. So I stopped chasing the happiness train (except for my gratitude thing) and in doing so, I found more peace. There are times I feel happy and they come naturally. I'm not driving myself crazy to be happy...I'm just feeling what comes naturally.
I think we all try too hard to be happy...how do you feel about it? Let me know in the comment section. I really am interested in your opinions on the subject.